Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Katie Wilmshurst
Special to the Observer 

Celebrate July 4 With A Bang- But Without The Fireworks

 

With Independence Day fast approaching, the celebrations getting underway, and the fire department sending a vital press release, we take a quick look back at what brought about our annual Fourth of July Parade in Santa Monica.

At 9:30am this Friday, the Ocean Park Association (OPA) will take its 1.5 mile route around Santa Monica, from the Pico Boulevard and Main Street, south on Main, turning west on Marine Street, onto Barnard Way and concluding south of Ocean Park Boulevard. But 30 years ago, these thriving celebrations had a completely different story.

Everyone associates July 4 with spectacular firework displays- but for many in Santa Monica these displays were a real trouble-maker. Even today, the Santa Monica fire department reminds us that "ALL types of fireworks are illegal in the City of Santa Monica, including so-called "safe and sane" fireworks".

Santa Monica has undoubtedly had some turbulent years with its firework displays. These events were revered in the 1980s as a way to experience fireworks safely, away from residential areas. However with the destruction of San Clemente pier due to a poorly executed display, Santa Monica replaced their production company with a much less spectacular show in 1982. The following year, part of the Santa Monica pier was destroyed in a huge storm- once again holding back the fireworks display. Once the event returned, however, it opened up an unwanted demographic: crime and violence escalated in each celebration.

To tackle this, the council proposed a pre-dawn display to end the influx of criminal elements. However, with the wider range of firework displays in Los Angeles and thus increase competition, the Santa Monica events were never quite the same, and dangers linked with fireworks brought about the aforementioned fire code, with "the authority to seize, take and remove fireworks and/or safe and sane fireworks stored, sold, offered for sale, used or handled in violation of the provisions of Title 19 CCR".

These incidents are not isolated to the 1980s. In 2013, there were 8 deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. According to the latest press release issued by the fire department, this is "an increase from 8,700 injuries in 2012". The statement adds "65% of the injuries in 2013 occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4, 2013".

Though Santa Monica College now hosts an impressive, resident-exclusive fireworks display a week before independence day, celebrations on July 4 are far from quiet. Santa Monica has turned to these celebratory parades as a safe, family-orientated alternative- and it's proving a hit.

The parade's less traditional theme, "May the 4th be with you", will bring all the sci-fi and fantasy fun the city can muster, from galaxies near and far, showing just what it means to have independence as a force of good – a trait unique to our country and city. The parade will showcase classic cars and floats, along with live music and animal acts.

The parade theme is also reflected in this year's Grand Marshal as OPA honors former City of Santa Monica Mayor Nathaniel Trives. He has worked tirelessly for the Santa Monica community and truly deserves the title "Mr. Santa Monica".

Other VIPs include State Senator Ted Lieu, Assembly member Richard Bloom, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Connor, Council members Gleam Davis, Robert Holbrook, Kevin McKeown, Terry O'Day and Tony Vasquez and members of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Also taking part in this year's parade are former Santa Monica Mayors: Judy Abdo, Michael Feinstein, Ruth Goldway, Paul Rosenstein and Bobby Shriver, along with City Manager Rod Gould and Deputy City Manager Elaine Polachek.

Board Member and Parade Chair Jeff Jarow stated "this event is a ray of sunshine for the community", adding "The OPA is proud that this event is a non-political one".

Viewers are encouraged to walk or ride their bikes to the route to help achieve a more environmentally friendly parade. Come early before intersections are closed and so you can get a curb side seat to watch all the festivities. Parking will be available at the Civic Center structure (4th Street and Olympic) for $5.00.

Join the fun and make this year's parade Santa Monica's best ever! For more information, please contact: [email protected]

 

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